The NIE and Israel

In my banana republic thread, MinnesotaChuck asks the $64,000 question.

I wonder if the withdrawal of the resolution, which went down several days ago, had anything to do with the release of the NIE yesterday.

That–or rather the reverse scenario–seems pretty darn likely to me. Consider these data points:

November 26: Per Seymour Hersh, Bush tells Ehud Olmert what’s in the NIE.

November 27: The Annapolis Peace Conference

November 28: The day Hadley claims Bush was briefed on the NIE; Bush meets with Olmert again

November 29: Khalilzad submits a resolution endorsing Annapolis at UN; Condi calls Khalilzad in the middle of the meeting to ask WTF he’s doing

November 30: A Khalilzad deputy withdraws the UN resolution while Khalilzad is in "previously scheduled" meeting in DC with Condi

December 3: Unexpected public release of NIE showing Iran has given up nuke program

December 4: Israelis say the NIE is wrong; Bush announces his first trip to Israel as President (h/t Laura); both Annapolis and Iran’s purported nukes are on the agenda; Khalilzad calls the claim that he had submitted the resolution without vetting it bull

All of which makes me all the more curious how–and when–the NIE got declassified. Because it sure looks like Israel is only going to let Condi have her Annapolis-based legacy if she allows them to continue to war-monger in Iran. And the release of the NIE sure put a damper in that.

  1. phred says:

    EW, what I don’t get is why Israel is so hot to pick a fight with Iran. Or I should say, why are they so hot to have us bomb Iran back to the stone age? Surely the Israelis can see the difficult position they would be in with an utterly destabilized Iran? Is Olmert a batshit crazy neocon, too?

    All of this certainly lends credence to the comment posted yesterday (my apologies, I forget who mentioned it) that the Israeli bombing this summer may have been intended to provoke a response from Iran to give Darth the excuse he’s been looking for…

  2. klynn says:

    I thought this timeline would be coming…re the NIE and Israel. But I think the timeline probably goes back earlier –especially since we seem to have a practice of back channeling info to Israel.

  3. marksb says:

    SO why did Bush bother to lie about when he was briefed about the NIE? Was it just to deny he lied in his recent warmonger speeches?

    Why is Israel so bent on taking out Iran? Is it a personal thing at this point, or do they really consider Iran a near-term threat? (Or, do they see the long-term threat and realize this is the only chance they’re going to have to take out Iran with U.S. backing?)

    What kind of monkey business will Bush pull while visiting Israel?

    It’s pretty clear after this last 24 hours that Bush and Company have never been seen so obviously lying. Near as I can tell, almost no one believed them yesterday or today. It’s amazing that they continue to work so hard at denying what is so horribly transparent.

  4. Hmmm says:

    Very very interesting. Wasn’t Friday November 26 also the day Cheney became unavailable for the Annapolis conference, citing health problems of an unforeseen nature?

    I would also be curious to see how the addition of the Saudis to the conference, and Cheney’s trip to Saudi Arabia over the summer when he came back evidently unsatisfied, time out. (As well as the bent spear B52 event and the Syria construction site strike too, for that matter.)

    On the other hand, maybe I just read this a little too recently:…..85420/9924


  5. Hmmm says:

    OK, I now think I’m actually quite off topic with almost all of this, so my apologies.

    Just to answer my own questions:

    – Cheney Saudi Arabia meeting: May 12
    – Minot bent spear event: August 29-30
    – Syria strike: September 9
    – Bush WWIII rhetoric: October 17
    – Announcements Saudis would attend Annapolis: November 23

    • phred says:

      I wouldn’t be too hasty about being off topic with your timeline. From EW’s timeline yesterday (see the link she had in her 5:02 reply to klynn above),

      February 2007: NIE completed; Cheney objecting to content.

      April 26, 2007: Thomas Fingar announces NIE will be delayed due to Ahmadinejad’s demagoguery.

      So then Cheney’s trip to Saudi might have been to drum up something he could use against Iran to tweak the NIE to his satisfaction.

      Again from EW,

      June (?) 2007: Information collected that supports claim Iran’s nuclear program remains suspended.

      Still not what Cheney needs, so the Minot-Barksdale incident occurs in late August, followed closely by Syrian strike in September. To provoke an retaliatory attack by Iran???

      Back to EW,

      Early October 2007: BushCo considers spiking the NIE.

      Meanwhile on Oct. 17th Bush is carrying on about WWIII using very carefully chosen words (can’t let them have the knowledge, yada yada yada — yeah good luck with that, guess he has heard of the toobz, just the tubes.

      And finally from EW,

      November 22, 2007: Mohammed el Baradei states Iran is cooperating, though IAEA still has questions about its nuclear program.

      The following day Saudi decides to come to Annapolis for the anti-Iran pow wow. Since between the NIE and el Baradei, teh crazies aren’t getting the cooperation in the false-intel they are used to.

      I think you’ve got something with your timeline Hmmm.

      • phred says:

        Oops, meant to say “hasn’t heard of the toobz” — I miss preview.

        rfw, looks like we were editing EW’s timeline at the same time, curse these slow fingers of mine ; )

        selise, I think the bomb Iran strategy is all about the Shock Doctrine Naomi Klein has written about. That, and in BushCoWorld “thems that controls the oil wins”. And golly isn’t it handy that with BushCo’s ties to the oil industry there is a tidy profit to be made too. Bankrupting the country both financially and morally never enters their equations. But this whole notion of country is a bit beside the point in a world run by multi-national corporations. You just want to make sure those powerful multi-nationals belong to you.

    • phred says:

      selise — I can see why you thought that, given all the chatter about talks between him and Bhutto and power sharing and all. I just thought it was a stalling tactic on Musharraf’s part, but like I said, that’s just the impression I had, so I could easily be wrong.

      By the way, as long as we’re amassing dates, Musharraf’s talks with the King occurred on Tuesday Nov. 20th. Not sure how much prior to that they were arranged, but since the military crackdown occurred on Sunday Nov. 4th, I doubt it was in the works for very long.

      LooHoo, the Nukes Across America only fits in if you believe that Darth was hoping Iran would retaliate in some fashion to the Syrian strike. So Darth wanted things locked and loaded for a quick strike to defend Israel following some Iranian provocation. This is all wildly (and I stress that) speculative. But given Darth’s track record with Iraq, I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s made no bones about being desirous of taking out Iran, he just needs an excuse.

      The part I don’t get in this little scenario is why Iran would retaliate following a strike in Syria. And more importantly, why didn’t Syria make more of a stink about it at the time if the attack really was against some non-threatening target. But, that’s why we have EW, and I just turn up to ask questions and chew over possibilities ; )

  6. emptywheel says:

    WRT the lies about the timing of the NIE, I suspect (and this is outtamyarse) several things are going on.

    First, I do suspect tehy didn’t “officially” tell Bush for a while–just as they did with the challenges to the Iraq intell. And I think there was a time (late July to early September, probably–note, the Syrian airstrike was on September 6), where they pretended they didn’t know about this so they could try to twist some arms and change the conclusions. ANd then, I suspect teh decision was made very recently to release the NIE, which is when things got haywire with the Israelis.

    What’s interesting is Annapolis is Condi’s thing. The most plausible explanation for why teh NIE got released is it came from DOD. So two Cheney losses. But, at least so far, it looks like the release of the NIE might scuttle Condi’s Annapolis gig.

    • selise says:

      it looks like the release of the NIE might scuttle Condi’s Annapolis gig.

      which makes sense if you see the annapolis gig as about creating an anti-iranian alliance (and not having anything to do with an i/p peace conference).

    • LS says:

      Exactly, exactly, exactly…what it all means, I don’t know; but I read somewhere today that the British said we came perilously close to WWIII due to the Syria strike…

      Putie and China (who may have intel about the NIH) might have dropped the anvil on W’s toe…or something like that.

  7. klynn says:

    Yes I saw it and with the comments in the threads earlier today, I found myself thinking of the short term timeline of events along with the longer timeline. So, I figured you would also be posting a “short term” timeline to go with your previous timeline.And, you did! Thank you!

    The more I think about everything, the bigger the timeline and connections become. I think you are going to end up with a timeline as big as your Plame timeline (not to mention an interception to the Plame timeline). You realize you are beginning yet another book EW…

  8. EdwardTeller says:

    Hiya, Marcy, from the very frozen North. Very interesting new site.

    So, there were somewhere between 330 and 350 Presidential Daily Briefings between the NIE Iranian assessment and Bush being told of that assessment. How many of those briefings were given to the President by somebody aware of the NIE?

  9. emptywheel says:


    I absolutely agree that it’s an anti-Iran alliance–it doesn’t make sense otherwise, nor does Iran’s panic that Syria would attend make any sense unless Iran recognized that.

    But that doesn’t quite get at the irony I was trying to express (and failing):

    The reason Annapolis MIGHT work is because our Saudi dealers say it has to work, and because everyone has an interest in taking on Iran. If Annapolis worked, it might forestall the decline of the petroleum dollar world.

    But it’s not clear that an Iran strike–as opposed to hegemonic struggle–was supposed to be a part of it (at least as far as Condi was concerned). But now it looks like a little NIE simply laying out the truth might give us a strike–which will end the petroleum dollar world pretty quickly, and will make Annapolis fail.

    Well, it was going to fail anyway.

  10. radiofreewill says:

    November 2006: NIE “completed.” [No Key Judgment against Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program]

    January 5, 2007: John Negroponte resigns as DNI, reportedly because of fight over NIE. [Negroponte couldn’t ‘arm-twist’ the IC into changing the Key Judgments, and Cheney said, ‘Don’t even think of bringing that thing over here without that Key Judgment.’ Negroponte resigns.]

    February 2007: NIE completed; Cheney objecting to content. [Still no Key Judgment against an Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program.]

    April 26, 2007: Thomas Fingar announces NIE will be delayed due to Ahmadinejad’s demagoguery. [Ahmadinejad has known for 4 years that Iran’s program has been shut-down – and he knew Bush and Cheney knew, too. His Columbia speech pelted Bush and Cheney with taunts – so, NIE delayed.]

    June (?) 2007: Information collected that supports claim Iran’s nuclear program remains suspended. [Probably more like ‘information finally accepted’ as authenticating program suspension.]

    Early October 2007: BushCo considers spiking the NIE. [Never got the Key Judgment against Iran that they wanted/needed to justify an Attack.]

    October 27, 2007: David Shedd reveals Mike McConnell has made it harder to declassify NIE judgments–leading most observers to believe the Iran NIE would not be released. [After the Syrian Provocation Mission, BushCo was caught with ‘authorizing’ an Israeli strike on a target purported to be a ‘nuclear facility’ – that was more likely a Barn – and, as a Target, is not likely to have been featured in the NIE. They don’t want anyone to ’see’ that, and figure out for themselves that Bush was War-mongering knowing that Iran didn’t have a Weapons Program, but looking for a pretext anyway to Attack.]

    Early November 2007: Administration decides to release NIE, but not publish judgments. [The Key Judgments would have Thrown Water on any War Fever that BushCo and Israel were trying to keep going.]

    November 22, 2007: Mohammed el Baradei states Iran is cooperating, though IAEA still has questions about its nuclear program. [El Baradei sounds like he was prepared to make an announcement of his own, if Bush didn’t speak first.]

    December 1, 2007: Mohammed el Baradei states that bombing Iran would ensure it gets the bomb more quickly. [Brilliant!]

    December 3, 2007: NIE key judgments released. [End of Any Threat of BushCo Attacking Iran, and Exposure of Israel as BushCo’s Ideological Partner in the tensions of the Middle East.]

  11. Hmmm says:

    I think you guys may be on to something here. All the pieces fit. Regional bloc — absent Israel — decides containing Iran is preferable to having it attacked for them by the US/Israel, meet in Annapolis to plan and read the US the riot act. I’m guessing the Sauds hung the threat of moving OPEC to the Euro over the US’ head to enforce it all. Israel and the Cheney camp are beyond pissed and have lost tremendous face/power and so are now madly scrambling to get the Iran attack story back on track — futilely, it is to be hoped. And of course, true to all appearances, W doesn’t actually care about the I/P issues, which we now see to be merely the cover story for Annapolis.


  12. Hmmm says:

    I bet the Saudis told Cheney during his May trip there that if his intelligence said Iran was on a weapons path, then it was crap — because they knew their intel was better quality, and it said the opposite.

  13. selise says:

    Well, it was going to fail anyway.

    ah.. failing vs. crashing and burning?

    what the hell are the neo-con “let’s bomb iran” crowd really trying to achieve then? it is really just as simple as all-war-all-the-time?”

    this has gotten beyond my ability to find possible explanations that make sense.

  14. sojourner says:

    I am going to take it a bit farther and state that it sounds like our Saudi friends have decided that Bush and Cheney are not the people they thought they were. Someone in the background (perhaps Bush Sr and friends) still have some stroke with the Saudis, but our current two illustrious potentates have just been dunked in the sewer.

    It couldn’t happen to nicer people… Personally, I would enjoy dragging Cheney out of his office.

  15. emptywheel says:


    It’s really about sustaining US hegemony past the time when there’s no basis for it (except our fast airplanes). We can’t compete economically anymore (that is, we don’t MAKE anything, we just make financial deals, which are about to explode in a mad shitpile). Yet we can sustain the happy consumer lifestyle because everyone keeps their dollars in dollars. That’s about to change–and may well change precipitously in the very near future. If it does, then we’re a giant Argentine meltdown. Also, what we do make is competitiev at all partly bc of cheap oil.

    So there are two ways of solving the problem. The first is to become competitive again. But that doesn’t equal as much power for Dick Cheney’s friends–they’d have to ensure that the middle class continued to make middle class wages. At the same time, we’d need to invent new energy sources, to replace the cheap oil we’d lose once the Saudis cut us off.

    The other is to ensure that no one gets Iran’s oil and to ensure that there remains a reason to buy dollars. Taking over Iran, after Iraq–that would solve the problem.

    Add in global warming and the second is bound to fail, but don’t tell Dick CHeney that.

  16. bmaz says:

    “April 26, 2007: Thomas Fingar announces NIE will be delayed due to Ahmadinejad’s demagoguery.”

    WTF? Really, WTF? How does the Iranian mini-moron flapping his lips (and I don’t believe he ever said they were building a nuke, just that it is their right under international law to do so; which is quite arguably correct) serve as a basis to delay the NIE? This is stunning BS.

    “Early October 2007: BushCo considers spiking the NIE.”

    Nobody has said anything about this one either. Again, WTF? Is the White House historically in the habit of “spiking” NIEs because they don’t fit their bat shit insane lust for war?????

    Why isn’t anyone at least mentioning these two outrageous events? This is absolutely damning.

  17. Hmmm says:

    Just looked up the date of the announcement that Syria would attend Annapolis. Isn’t this an interesting series of days?:

    November 22, 2007: Mohammed el Baradei states Iran is cooperating, though IAEA still has questions about its nuclear program. [El Baradei sounds like he was prepared to make an announcement of his own, if Bush didn’t speak first.]

    November 23, 2007: Announcements Saudis would attend Annapolis

    November 25: Announcements Syria would attend Annapolis

    November 26, 2007: Cheney becomes unavailable for Annapolis conference, citing unforeseen health problems

    November 26: Per Seymour Hersh, Bush tells Ehud Olmert what’s in the NIE.

    (Actually I merged all the timelines into one, but that’d probably take up too much room here.)

    • emptywheel says:

      Why don’t you email it to me, I’ll make it a fresh post. And then once I figure out how to set up the timeline pages I’m going to set up, we can move it there.

    • phred says:

      Yep. And if IIRC it was when the Syrians decided to come (presumably because Saudi twisted an arm or two in both directions) that the Iranians started complaining loudly about the whole thing. Kinda makes sense since everyone and their cousin besides Iran had been invited. In fact, now that I think of it I heard former ambassador Dennis Ross on NPR (On Point from WBUR on Thursday Nov. 27th) complaining what a hash Condi had made of the whole thing: inadequate preparations for subsequent negotiations, too many countries in attendance. But, if the goal wasn’t really a final I/P peace deal, but instead a what-to-do-about-Iran cover story, then the “lack of preparation” makes a lot more sense. Well, that and the fact that the neocons are chronically incompetent — I suppose both explanations work here.

  18. emptywheel says:

    Although we shoudl also add in 1) the OPEC meeting, where everyone was hot to drop the dollar, and 2) the Saudis sending pro-AQ Sharif back to Pakistan in time to run for president.

  19. selise says:

    i guess i see an unprovoked attack by the usa on iran – one that is rejected as lawless by the rest of the world (especially after the release of this nie) – as the fastest way to throw us into an economic meltdown (aka the crash and burn senario).

    the condi senario of attempted iran containment and economic strangulation (in order to prevent iran’s rise as a local power) seems less dangerous to me… although doomed to failure in the long run. but, at least it’s more likely to allow a gradual transition from petrodollars to something else.

    maybe the cheneyites see war with iran now (or soon) as their last mad roll of the dice – because every other senario has them not ruling the world. and anything less than that is unacceptable to them. with added potential benefit of “shock” as phred describes above. maybe they think they will come out the winners in a global economic meltdown.

    so then the question is – was the nie leaked to prevent the bomb iran soon plan (and support the condi plan)… or was it leaked to undermine the condi plan (and support the bomb iran soon plan).

    … trying to think “out loud” here… not claiming to make any sense….

  20. LS says:

    January, 2008 State of the Union:

    “The New Homeland Government has learned that Ahmadinijad recently sought significant quantities of uranium from America.”

    Couldn’t help myself.

  21. emptywheel says:


    I think you’re absolutely right. The last mad roll of the dice.

    And I think the NIE was released to prevent the bomb Iran plan, though not really with an eye toward the Annapolis.

  22. phred says:

    EW, NYT reports on Nov. 25th that Sharif returned on Sunday evening.

    And from the Guardian Friday Nov. 16th was the OPEC drop the dollar slip up.

    • selise says:

      but on monday, didn’t the pakistan election commission rule that sharif could not participate in the coming election?

      that was not what i was expecting.

      • phred says:

        selise — my understanding was that Sharif’s return to Pakistan was about Saudi sending him packing, not Musharraf welcoming home a rival to run against him. There was never any real question about Musharraf letting go of power. The whole martial law thing happened because he got wind that the Pakistani Supreme Court had ruled against him. So declaring martial law bought him the time he needed to arrange things to maintain his current position of power. I’m not convinced he was all that keen on “power sharing” with Bhutto either, but that’s just mvho.

        • selise says:

          i expected musharraf to arrange some kind of power sharing arrangement with sharif (as an alternative to the one with bhutto that we arranged – since it had crashed and burned)… with the goal being that musharraf stays in power while using sharif to pretend that that there is some kind of democratic transition happening.

          oh, well. that senario no longer makes any sense.

      • IMbobo says:

        The “Pakistan Election Commission” is Musharraf’s people. Musharraf deposed Sharif 8 years ago. US carefully brokered a deal to let Bhutto return to Pakistan, and compete (at least nominally) in an election. But as phred (who types faster than I do) says, Sharif was NOT “invited” back.

  23. Hmmm says:

    Well. So, it would seem that the Middle East has finally found a way to restrain the meddling of the US. Or at least to prevent its most extreme lunges.


    So how exactly does The (Cheney/Israel) Empire Strike Back?

    Is it still believed that a nuke is loose after Minot-Barksdale?

  24. phred says:

    selise — Here’s the money quote from the NYT article

    “Mr. Sharif’s return from Saudi Arabia was negotiated in the last few days, when General Musharraf made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia, where Mr. Sharif had been living. The Pakistani leader had asked the Saudi leader, King Abdullah, to keep Mr. Sharif in exile until after the elections, but the Saudi leader made clear that he no longer wanted to take sides in Pakistan’s politics, according to politicians close to the government. Mr. Sharif told supporters he was thankful to the Saudi king.”

  25. phred says:

    Dang it, still can’t drive this new car you have EW, no idea how that last reply to selise and LooHoo looks like a reply to Hmmm. Sigh.

  26. Loo Hoo. says:

    I guess I’m just wondering why the rest of the world lets this administration continue with the horseshit.

    • Leen says:

      You can say that again. American citizens and our Reps seem ineffective for the most part. An international intervention is what is needed.

  27. bigbrother says:

    Looks like the Middle East is becoming assertive after deciding it is not longer in their best interest for Eurpeans/Americans to run the show. Isreal is and will continue exacerbating for premptive war to keep the region from stabilizing. The Russians and the Chinese see the opening and are filling the vacuum created by the Bush admin. The Bush admin is grasping for political straws and are now seen as foolish, desperate and bad partners. (Britain and Austrailia are leaving the Middle East and Turkey is pressing) Bush is in a hornets nest and Cronkites sees the writing on the wall, big, big trouble ahead and risking the loss of 5th fleet could mark the end of the corporate empire. The house of cards is falling down and with it our country is in deep trouble.

  28. Leen says:

    So did Schumer and Feinstein flip on the newly appointed Attorney General Muskasey hoping that he would dismiss the upcoming (if it is not delayed again) Aipac espionage trial?

    Will Mukasey dismiss this trial? Was the release of the withheld NIE report the trade for dismissing this trial?

  29. Leen says:

    Israel’s housing ministry said yesterday it plans to build 307 homes in a settlement in East Jerusalem, drawing swift condemnation from Palestinian officials.

    Tenders were published for housing units in Har Homa, a settlement to the south-east of the city on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war and later annexed. East Jerusalem is now home to about 200,000 Jewish settlers. Most of the international community does not recognise Israel’s annexation of the east of the city.…..40,00.html

    Not good!